Steve Nash and Shaquille O’Neal willed the Suns to victory on Sunday. (NBAE Photos)
There’s been a trend of late toward declaring them DBFA (dead BEFORE) arrival and gloomily fearing they might not even live long enough to make the playoffs, let alone lay an egg in them.
So if nothing else, this victory over the defending champions should lighten the mood in these parts a bit and alter the silly perception that the Suns have been morphing into the Miami Heat before our very eyes.
Having said that, one does not want to make the mistake of rushing to judgment in the other direction on the basis of one win, however impressive it was. The Suns are still a work in progress, and it’s still too soon to declare their makeup either a success or a failure.
But forget the future for the moment. This was a very satisfying present. It was a second straight game in which Shaq delivered some big time numbers, a game in which the Suns played some surprisingly stout defense, a game in which for a change the Suns made the big shots and stops down the stretch instead of the Spurs.
It was a game in which Grant Hill hit a huge jumper and Tim Duncan missed a lay-up in a tide-turning sequence very late, a game in which the Spurs missed 56 shots and hit only 35 percent from the field, a game in which The Big ICBM (aka Shaq) launched his 7-5, 235-body into the third row of seats in pursuit of a loose ball, and a game that had playoff intensity all over it from start to finish.
It was also, if the truth be told, a game which was won by the most desperate team because, even as the Suns attributed a loss in Denver last week at least partly to the fact the Nuggets need a victory more than they did, this result could be said to be at least in part to the fact the Suns needed it much more than did the Spurs.
Amare Stoudemire and Shaq (aka Mr. Inside and Mr. Even Further Inside) dominated the boards and scored 30 points between the two despite being plagued by foul problems, and Mr. Outside (aka Steve Nash) hit his only two threes at a critical juncture (i.e.—the intersection between win and don’t win), while scoring 19 points and handing out 14 assists.
Still, this department’s MCGB (most coveted game ball) goes to Hill, who had 18 points on 9 for 13 shooting, kept the Suns in touch with 5 for 5 shooting in the second period, and hit the aforementioned huge jumper with 1:15 left on the heels of Duncan’s missed lay-up to give the Suns a three-point lead.
As for defense, while I don’t attribute all of San Antonio’s uncharacteristic shooting woes to it, the Suns were very aggressive and more than met Coach Mike’s goal of at least slowing somebody down.
The bottom line: The sky may still be a bit cloudy, but it most definitely is not falling.